In between drawing plans for a layout that is very unlikely ever to be built in the form detailed in those plans I’ve been making steady progress on Pioneer’s undercarriage. The practical reason for rebuilding this little loco is that I need a dock shunter for Morpeth however I have a great deal of nostalgic affection for the little Manning Wardle and she never ran very well when I first built her about 9 years ago. I didn’t really bother trying to fix Pioneer when she stopped running altogether: I just packed her in a box and moved onto other projects. However little 0-6-0 locos with rigid chassis are notoriously difficult to get running really well so I’m not alone. Deciding to put some sprung hornblocks and plunger pickups under her didn’t happen because I’m a good modeller capable of doing such work: it’s because I’m a rubbish modeller who can’t seem to get a rigid chassis to work properly.
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve assembled the components I made from NS sheet and managed to get the sprung hornguides installed after only having to unsolder them once. Everything seems to be working well now however I’ve still managed to make the ride height slightly lower over the front axle than the rigid one in the back. This I can live with. The system used in the Fourtrack hornguides is that you tap a 10BA hole through a small lug which sits above the horn blocks and into which a bolt is screwed down on top of each block. This bolt also retains the spring. This allows you to adjust the ride height however it can be a little difficult to get this absolutely correct before you solder everything up solid because you can’t trim the top off the bolt until after you’ve soldered the thing in place and before you trim it you can’t attach the loco body to the chassis, making fine adjustment rather difficult. As I say I’ve managed to have set the front of the chassis about 1mm lower than the rear but this is very hard to notice and the loco will run fine as long as I’ve set up the hornguides properly.
Generally speaking I haven’t tried to be too fussy with this rebuild. Wherever possible I’ve reused parts from the original kitbash. I’ve scratchbuilt the main components but most of the detail parts are recycled. I was always very happy with the way Pioneer looked, I can’t see much point in making new parts when I have the old ones sitting there waiting to be recycled.
The next steps will be to get the wheels turning smoothly with the side rods applied and then I’ll do a quick motor test and run in. I’ve got some plans for a couple of lights to be installed in Pioneer – some lamps and a more effective firebox flicker – but these are the only significant changes I’m planning to make to the body (he says with fingers crossed). The loco already has a speaker and a sound decoder installed so there’s not much more than will need to be done other than wiring her up and painting after the rebuilt chassis is complete.